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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Feature Article


Written By: Michael Dawe
Published By: Red Deer Express
Article Used with permission. © Copyright Michael Dawe, 2008

One of the most highly respected long-time residents of Red Deer, a man who was so involved in the community that many referred to him as "Mr. Red Deer", was W.J. (Bill) Botterill.

William J. Botterill was born on October 8, 1876 in Galt, Ontario, son of Edward and Elizabeth Botterill. He moved with his family to Fleming, Saskatchewan in 1888. After completing his schooling, he went into the grain business, working for such firms as the Winnipeg Elevator Company and Brackman Ker.

After living in Lacombe for two years, he moved to Red Deer in 1902. He went into partnership with James Latimer in the farm machinery and grain business. He soon specialized in International Harvester equipment and sold the first International gasoline powered tractor in Alberta to James Bower of Red Deer.

In 1904, he married Nellie Freestad and they were to have four children, Ella, Phyllis, Lois and Norman.

The same year as Bill Botterill got married, he successfully ran for Town Council. He served as mayor in 1909 and then continued on as a councillor until 1916.

He became a member of the Board of Trade (Chamber of Commerce) in 1903 and served on the executive for a quarter of a century. He was president on three different occasions and was eventually made a life member.

In 1910, Bill Botterill first went into the real estate and insurance business. In 1911, he founded what eventually became Botterill, McKee and Anderson (Century 21), one of the oldest business firms in Red Deer. The insurance business of Ing and McKee also has its roots in Bill Botterill’s firm.

In 1911, he helped to found and served as the first president of the Red Deer Real Estate Association. He later served as a founding executive member of the Alberta Real Estate Association.

In 1916, Bill Botterill decided to serve "King and Country" in the First World War and became an officer in the 187th Battalion. He later became a gunner in the 175th Battery and served overseas with the Fifth Division Artillery.

After the War, he became very active with the Great War Veterans Association (the precursor of the Royal Canadian Legion) and was elected president of the Alberta Command. For many years, he also served on the national executive of the Dominion Command.

In 1923, Bill Botterill helped to found the Red Deer Rotary Club and served as the first president. He kept an impressive 36 years of perfect attendance in the Club.

Bill Botterill was an avid gardener and his home on Ross Street, east of 47th Avenue, became one of the real beauty spots of Red Deer. He is credited with planting some of the first peony bushes in the community. He was also well known for his work in encouraging the nesting of purple martins. He and his wife were key members of the Red Deer Horticultural Society for many decades.

Bill Botterill was very interested in the Central Alberta Pioneers and Old Timers Association. He served on the executive for many years, including a term as president and was eventually named a life member.

One of Bill Botterill’s keenest interests was with the Masons. In 1907, he became a founding member of Kenilworth Lodge #29, A.F. & A.M. and in 1910, served as master of the Lodge. In 1913, he was elected District Deputy Grand Master. In 1919, shortly after his return from the War, was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Alberta. In 1920, he was honoured with a life membership in the Kenilworth Lodge.

Nellie Botterill passed away in May 1957 and Bill Botterill passed away in January 1961. They are both buried in the Red Deer Cemetery. Botterill Crescent in the Bower Place subdivision is named in their honour.

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